A Beginner Business Owner’s Guide to Avoiding Common Entrepreneurial Errors

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Starting a business is a great way to gain control over your professional future. However, did you know that the majority of entrepreneurs fail? This isn’t meant to discourage you from pursuing entrepreneurship. Instead, it’s a reminder that you should prepare thoroughly before taking this step.

Here are some common mistakes that can derail a business, and our top tips on how to avoid them.

Never learning the basics of entrepreneurship

If you don’t have a business background, additional education can help you prepare for becoming an entrepreneur. An online business programme that teaches skills like accounting, communications, and management can help you gain the skills you need to avoid basic business mistakes. With different types of focus, you benefit from greater flexibility, as you can study and work simultaneously.

Failing to research your business idea

If your business is going to succeed, there has to be a demand for it. Research your business idea to define your target audience. Entrepreneur Handbook has tips for vetting startup concepts, like checking out competitors in your potential field and surveying customers to find out what they’re looking for.

Selecting the wrong business entity type

Registering your business as a formal legal entity with your state can provide perks, such as easier tax filing and streamlined administrative paperwork. Research the different types of entities to find out which one best suits your needs. Examples include a corporation, s-corporation, and limited liability company.

Ignoring HR best practices

While your business might start as a one-person show, odds are that you’ll eventually scale up and hire staff. You want to avoid HR mistakes, like not properly vetting candidates. Best practices to consider include hiring based on values, checking references, and conducting interviews instead of just relying on resumes.

Failing to create a budget

A budget helps your business avoid needless spending, ensuring you don’t blow through your cash too quickly. ZoHo explains how you can create a realistic business budget to keep your spending in check. Your budget will also serve practical purposes, like helping you to negotiate costs with suppliers and analyse costs quickly.

Not educating yourself about tax issues

As a business owner, you’ll have to learn about tax reporting and filing obligations for your chosen business entity. For example, corporations are taxed differently from limited liability companies. The Internal Revenue Service has a guide to business takes that can serve as a good primer. That said, it’s wise to seek tax advice if you aren’t sure what rules apply to you.

Trying to cut corners on tech costs

Many entrepreneurs don’t invest in technology because they want to cut costs. However, the right tools can streamline operations, boosting productivity and profits. Look into tools such as cybersecurity protection, inventory management software, project management tools, and communications apps. Automation tools can also save time and cash.

Trying to do it all yourself

Many entrepreneurs want to maintain tight control over their businesses. However, this can leave you feeling overloaded and increase the risk of burnout. Maintain oversight of your core competencies but outsource other tasks like admin and marketing. For example, HQ Content Writer can provide content writing services to promote your brand.

Neglecting to create a marketing plan

If you want your business to succeed, you need to attract the attention of potential customers. Creating a comprehensive marketing plan will allow you to do just that. A high-level marketing plan should include a business summary, initiatives, customer analysis, competitor analysis, and market strategy, among other key points.

Life as a business owner is exciting. However, it also presents challenges. By educating yourself about common mistakes like those above, you can help avoid problems. Taking steps like getting a business education can pave the path to success.

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Marketing Strategies Every Senior Entrepreneur Should Know

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Guest post written by Virginia Cooper of Learn a Living.

Marketing is a multifunctional activity that involves creating brand awareness, developing a customer base, acquiring and retaining customers, and much more. While having a good product creates a strong foundation, in order to achieve your sales goals, effective marketing strategies are required.

This article provides an in-depth guide on how to market your business and achieve organizational goals.

Before you start investing money and resources towards marketing activities, it’s important to have a clear direction to follow. The first thing you need to determine is, of course, what type of business you want to run — there are many great ideas seniors can explore, from a dog-walking business to a tutor or business coach. Then, identify your niche (i.e., target market). These are a select group of customers who have the need, motivation, and money to buy your products.

Follow these steps to find your niche:

  • Define Your Problem Statement: Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and imagine a problem they have which your business can solve. For example, you run a meal prep service providing nutritious cooked meals to customers who have chosen to lead a healthy lifestyle, however, do not want to invest time towards cooking.
  • Learn About Your Customers: Educate yourself about prominent characteristics of your customers such as income, lifestyle, location, etc. Continuing the example of the meal prep service, running your business in an area populated by college students and working professionals would be a preferable choice.Campus food is often overpriced and low in nutrition, and health-conscious adults will opt not to eat at fast-food chains or restaurants.
  • Determine Who Will Buy It: While the college kid will be the one consuming the meals, their parents would be the ones making the purchases. Hence, the focus of your activities should be to convince parents rather than the student.
  • Research Your Competition: Look for the type of marketing campaigns your competitors are running, who they are targeting, and why. This can help you determine your market and gain insights regarding any demographics neglected by competitors which you can take advantage of.

Once you have determined your target market, switch your focus towards implementing marketing strategies. As a small business, you will need to experiment with various ideas before you find the one that works best for your niche. Here are a few viable channels to explore:

  • Create a Google Listing: As reported by LocaliQ, 97% of individuals use Google to find services they need, with over 46% of these having local intent. Having a verified Google listing provides credibility to your business in addition to making it super easy for customers to find you. Creating a listing is completely free with the capacity to bring you an immense amount of sales.
  • Get Customer Reviews: Nothing matches the credibility of a customer encouraging others to use your products. Focus on making customers the face of your brand and use their voice for promoting your business. Post-sales ask customers to leave reviews on your Google listing, social pages, or on marketplaces where you sell products. With high reviews, you increase the chances of others choosing to buy from you.
  • Partner with an Influencer: Influencers have a loyal following of individuals who consider their opinion for buying products. Collaborating with a well-respected influencer in your niche is an effective way to connect directly with thousands of customers. Additionally, you can also utilise them to conduct giveaways, host contests, and create a buzz regarding your brand. If you need to whip up some new content for your own social media pages to help with this campaign, consider working with a freelancer like Maria Chambi, who specialises in content such as blog posts and website copy.
  • Get Featured in Local News: Being published in the news is a great platform to educate customers about your brand, story, and products. Moreover, it will improve brand retention as the next time individuals see your advertisement, they will connect it back to the news piece. Research about prominent local news reporters and publications accepting stories. You can apply to write an opinion piece or a column in addition to convincing reporters to publish a featured article.

Successful marketing doesn’t always involve large budgets. Rather than money, focus on determining your target market and find marketing channels that work best for your business. Through consistent posting and following a consumer-centric approach you will meet your sales goals and drive your business towards the path to success.

Check out learnaliving.co for more information about starting, continuing, or finishing your education.

Home Tidiness Habits to Help You Beat Clutter

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A neat and tidy home isn’t just a nice place to have friends visit; it’s a healthy home, too. Men’s Health notes that the link between clutter and stress is something researchers are increasingly talking about. If your counters are overflowing and your home looks shabby, it could be having an adverse impact on your mental health.

Virginia Cooper of Learnaliving.co shares a few tips on how to tidy up.

1. Be Ruthless About Decluttering

If there’s one thing to learn from tidiness idols such as Marie Kondo, it’s that stuff isn’t actually that important. What really brings joy to your life is what you do with it. So take some time to declutter. Learn to let go of things you don’t use and that just sit there forgotten. When you have less stuff in your house, you’ll have more room to literally, and figuratively, breathe.

2. Hired Help Can Be Worth the Money

Think about how much of your free time you spend cleaning, gardening, and doing other chores. What could you do with that time instead if jobs around the house were done for you? The improvement in quality of life resulting from hiring a cleaner, gardener, and even someone to do the ironing could be worthwhile. What price do you put on your time?

3. Invest in Storage

After decluttering, you’ll most likely still have things you want to keep. Invest in some creative storage solutions, such as futons, door-hanging storage pockets, or boxes that can be stashed under your bed. Put anything that needs to be looked after in those boxes so it’ll still be in good condition when you’re ready to pull it out again.

4. Refresh Your Existing Furniture

If you want to revamp your home but you’re on a tight budget, consider refreshing your existing furniture. A treasured couch or chair can be given a new lease on life if you hire a furniture upholstery service to recover it. Chairs can be revived for as little as €30 to €50 each, but you can expect to pay €1,000 to €3,000 to reupholster a large family couch. Exact fees depend on the size of the furniture and the type of fabric you want to use. Custom prints typically cost more than simple fabrics. Start by doing a search for ‘best upholstery near me’ or similar.

5. Lighting and Mirrors Can Make Your Home Feel Bigger

Even relatively clutter-free rooms can feel cramped if they’re small. Fortunately, as Bless’er House points out, there are lots of creative tricks you can use to make a small room look bigger. Many of these tricks revolve around the use of mirrors and lighting. If a room is brightly lit, it should feel less cramped. Mirrors create the illusion of more space and make the room feel brighter, and monochromatic colors are better than busy patterns in terms of making a space look more open and inviting.

Beating Clutter Is Worth the Effort

Having a clean and tidy home can increase your productivity and well-being, giving you a space you can feel relaxed in. Invest in storage and dedicate a weekend to decluttering, hire a cleaner, and consider reupholstering and redecorating to make your home look brighter and bigger.

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Maria Chambi produces high-quality content including blog posts, news articles, press releases, studies, reports, websites, reviews and much more. Reach out today to find out more! maria@hqcontentwriter.com

By Virginia Cooper of Learnaliving.co

Easy Tips on How to Regain Self-Confidence After the Pandemic

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This article is brought to you by Virginia Cooper of Learn a Living.

Almost all of us had no warning or time to prepare mentally for the pandemic—particularly for the lockdowns that ensued. This made us frantic and confused, leading to a state of chronic stress for many; it also severely impacted our confidence. Below, we present a few methods to help you get your confidence back as you ease back into society.

 Refresh Your Home

After so much time spent in it in the last year or so, redecorating your home to refresh your environment is a great idea at this point in time. While there are simple enough improvements that you can take on like repainting, landscaping, and even simple decluttering, you may have more hefty changes in mind, like a kitchen upgrade, bathroom revamp, and door replacement.

This sounds costly, yes. However, you could do these projects piece by piece as your financial situation allows. For instance, if you have a little extra money, pick up some new hardware for your cabinets. Or, purchase some paint to give your bathroom a fresh coat. Refreshing your home doesn’t have to happen all at once—take it step by step as your budget allows.

Make Slow Changes

Having experienced such dramatic changes and events, the idea of going through any more changes, even those that are more positive like returning to work, can be somewhat daunting. Rather than feeling guilty for no longer enjoying something you found normal in the past, like being in an office with many people or having to go grocery shopping every few days, be kind to yourself, don’t push yourself too much, and allow your mind and heart to get used to the situation slowly.

You can also slowly begin socialising with friends old and new. The pandemic has allowed us to put things into perspective, so reconnecting with old friends may be just the thing you need to get back into the social swing of things.

Tap Into Self-Care

A 2021 report shows that the United States faced a national mental health crisis that could create severe health and social consequences for many years to come. Many of us are also feeling anxious about going back to work or out in society. Again, be kind to yourself and understand that mixed feelings are okay and they make sense.

It’s essential to implement self-care practices into your daily life to ease the transition and improve your mental and physical health. Be sure to make changes at home to keep your environment positive and uplifting. Take several breaks during the day to do breathwork, listen to a short meditation, or take a walk around the block.

Be sure to treat yourself on occasion. This doesn’t mean you have to buy out an entire store, but think about perking yourself up with things you get a lot of use from, like a pair of super-comfortable leggings. Little gifts to yourself can make a big difference.

Sort Out Your Finances

Finances were one of the most prominent stress causes during the pandemic, and it remains an issue now for many people, even as the crisis ends. It’s a great time to find ways to cut down on your spending, learn how to budget, and rethink your financial priorities. As mentioned before, take this process slow. You don’t have to solve all your problems in one day.

The pandemic caused plenty of losses. As a result, you may have lost your confidence, but you can take the above mentioned measures (and more) to feel like yourself again.

This article is brought to you by Virginia Cooper of Learn a Living.

Stay-at-Home Business Ideas for Stay-at-Home Parents

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Guest post written by Virginia Cooper of Learn a Living.

Starting a small business doesn’t have to wait if you’re a stay-at-home parent. In fact, there are many opportunities just waiting for you to take advantage of them! There are plenty of great business ideas that you can run from the comfort of your own home while still taking care of your family. Keep reading to learn all about them!

Getting Your Stay-at-Home Business Started

If you’re looking to start your own business at home, there are a few things that you’ll need to do before things really get running. Take a look at the steps below so you know exactly what you need to do to start your small business:

  1. Find a business idea. We’ve included some great home business ideas below!
  2. Hammer out the details. Decide on your business structure, and take care of all of the legal obligations.
  3. Secure funding. No matter how small your business is, you’ll probably need funding to get things started.
  4. Set up your home office. Create a designated workspace for your home business.
  5. Market your business. Once you’re ready to start business operations, be sure that your customers can find you with a great marketing plan.

Take the Time to Sharpen Your Business Skills

Before you get your business started, take the time to sharpen your business skills. Consider going back to school and earning an online business degree. This can help you develop your business acumen. A few popular degree options are business management, marketing, and management and leadership. Each will provide crucial information to make your business as successful as possible.

A Few Business Ideas to Get You Started

Many people will suggest an ecommerce business for stay-at-home parents. While these are popular, they aren’t always the best option. They require a lot of screen time that not all stay-at-home parents have. Here are some business ideas that may suit your lifestyle better.

Plant Nursery

If you’ve got a green thumb and a backyard, you can start your own nursery at home. Houseplants and gardening, in general, have really started to boom during the pandemic. Take advantage of this by starting seedlings, or selling succulents. Plants are popular, and it’s a fun business to get into!

Personal Trainer

Being a personal trainer is easier than ever thanks to social media and the internet! If you’re a fitness buff, you can help others get into shape by becoming a personal trainer. Many appointments can be handled via video chat, meaning you’ll never need to leave your own home gym.

Life Coach

Sometimes people just need a helping hand. Finding fulfillment isn’t always that easy. If you’ve got a great listening ear and can provide advice for big life decisions, you may want to consider becoming a life coach. Most life coaching jobs are conducted via phone calls, text messages, video meetings, or traditional meetings. The best part about it is that you can schedule everything around your own needs.

Get Your Business Started Today

Being a stay-at-home parent doesn’t prevent you from starting your own business these days. Thankfully, with the right technology and a little bit of elbow grease, starting a small business is easier than ever! Take some time to sharpen your business skills and find a business that you’ll enjoy. Then, take the right steps to get your business started!

Check out learnaliving.co for more information about starting, continuing, or finishing your education.

Around the World in 50 Books

Even though I love to travel, the reality is, with kids (and the never-ending saga that is covid), travelling is not so easy at the moment. Yes, we have managed a few places this year, but I haven’t travelled half as much as I would’ve liked to.

That being said, I HAVE travelled a lot through books! This year, I happily exceeded my target of 50 books. I know my blog posts these days are mostly about books (when I do get around to posting), but that’s because if I wrote about much else it would mostly be related to food or kids, and neither are really content-writing related!

So with that in mind, here are some of the many places I’ve travelled to this year (via books, obviously), starting in Norway, across Europe and Asia, and ending in Australia!

Christmas Island, by Natalie Normann

Based in Norway

If you’re looking for an easy read and a sweet romance that transforms you to one of the colder parts of the world, Christmas Island is a great choice! This books offers insights into the many traditions and delights of Norway, as well as the seemingly never-ending cold and darkness that shrouds the country during the winter months.

The Foundling, by Stacy Halls

Based in London

I loved this book – it was a quick read but highly enjoyable. I felt myself immersed into 18th century London, and really resonated with the main character. A well-written, interesting read, where my attention was captured from the very first sentence.  

Those Who are Loved by Victoria Hislop  

Based in Greece  

Compelling from the very first page! This book is a total eye-opener. I knew nothing about what happened in Athens/Greece during the Second World War and am still shocked about what the circumstances were like there. While I didn’t necessarily agree with the protagonist’s actions during this time, that didn’t stop me from devouring the book and not being able to put it down while reading it! Highly recommend for anyone interested in first-hand accounts of life in Greece during WWII.

Sky Burial, by Xinran

Based in Tibet 

Sky Burial is a profound and fascinating insight into life in some of the remotest parts of Tibet. It follows the story of She Wen, a Chinese woman who journeys to Tibet to find her husband. It follows her over the course of 30 years, where she spent many years living with a nomadic Tibetan family. I thoroughly enjoyed this book – it’s well-written and interesting – and definitely made me want to visit Tibet!

The Damage Done, by Warren Fellows

Based in Thailand

The Damage Done is a true story about a man who was sentenced to life imprisonment in Thailand for heroin trafficking. Quite frankly, it’s harrowing and nightmarish, but it’s a true story and events such as these continue to happen to this day, so if you do have a strong stomach then I highly recommend this book. It’s tough-going from start to finish, but absolutely eye-opening and thankfully short too as it’s a truly shocking read (let’s put it this way, I won’t be visiting Thailand any time soon).

The Mountains Sing By Nguyen Phan Que

Based in Vietnam

The Mountains Sing is an exquisite book about hardship – and determination. Spanning multiple generations, this book offers an epic account of Vietnam’s 20th century history, much of which I was unware of. In fact, at one point I thought I was reading about North Korea, due to the similarities in government regime! This book is beautifully written, intricately woven and thought-provoking. It’s also tragic, heartbreaking and empowering. It taught me that in the midst of hardship, we have to keep going, and that within bad luck, there is always good luck.

The Girl with Seven Names By Hyeonsea Le

Based in North Korea, China and South Korea

I’ve heard about North Korea but have never read about it from such a perspective – and to think this still continues to this day! This is an utterly gripping read from start to finish. What this woman has been through is truly unimaginable but sadly not an isolated account. I devoured this book and definitely will not be visiting North Korea EVER in my life.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, by Lisa See

Based in China

I loved this book and I could hardly put it down! It offers a fascinating insight into a remote village of China and the world of Pu’er tea (and Chinese tea in general!) I loved learning about the Akha culture, traditions, rituals, superstitions and heritage. The book also covers the impact of being adopted as an ethnic minority in America.

Geisha of Gion, by Mineko Iwasaki

Based in Japan

Eye-opening and funny at times, Mineko is such a character with a fascinating story to tell. This is a secret world definitely worth reading about, and the book offers the perfect opportunitbey to learn all about it. I found the writing a bit simple but she writes from the heart and has an incredibly strong spirit. I am grateful for the opportunity to have learnt about her experiences in Gion, and as anyone who knows me well, have been desperate to visit Japan for a while now!

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman

Based in Australia, on an isolated island off the coast

This is a beautifully written book, but more importantly it’s such an interesting concept about a couple who essentially steal a baby and bring her up as if she is their own! And because of where they are situated, they get away with it (or do they?).

Not only does it offer a glimpse into remote Australian life, but it also really gets you thinking about the bond mothers have with their children, whether or not they are truly theirs.

Where have you travelled to this year via books? Let me know in the comments below!

Also, if you do have any book recommendations please let me know!

P.S. I am currently ‘in the Swiss Alps,’ and things are a bit eerie. Can anyone guess which book I’m reading?

Building Your Business: A Guide to Hiring Freelancers for Marketing

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Guest post written by Poppy Williams of TechBizGuide.

As a business owner, you know marketing takes time and money. Without a marketing plan, potential customers will not know to buy your products or services. Even with a marketing plan in place, entrepreneurs need to understand how to execute it effectively.

While some businesses can afford to hire an entire marketing team, most smaller companies do not have the funds or need to pay full-time employees to handle marketing. Startups, small businesses, and other companies may benefit from outsourcing help with marketing and sales.

Stressing Less With Freelance Workers

In the U.S., the number of freelance workers continues to rise. Freelancers work for themselves. They have the flexibility to take on the gigs they want and to set their schedule. Even for businesses that have a marketing team, freelancers can help take the stress off the team.

When providing a service to your company, freelancers tend to be more affordable and adaptable. Outsourced workers in marketing are typically accustomed to working with different clients and companies and can adapt quickly to a new business’ energy and needs.

In the case of marketing, when you look for freelancers, check out their experience. Testimonials and portfolios can let you research their past work. 

Benefiting From All Types of Marketing

According to the experts, marketing determines the consumer’s needs and works to create a demand. To market successfully, you need to understand how to create desirability for your product or services. When you create a marketing plan for your business, consider the different types of marketing options and look for freelancers specializing in what you need most:

  • Inbound marketing: Attracting customers through engagement and attraction
  • Digital marketing: Using technology and the internet to your advantage
  • Outbound marketing: Finding customers through cold calling, print ads, and other direct promotion tactics
  • Traditional marketing: Using offline marketing methods, such as billboards, radio ads, and flyers

Content writing is critical in the world of online marketing. Utilizing social media, blogs, and newsletters gives you unlimited access to clients. For marketing purposes, written content needs to be well-written, valuable, and representative of your brand. Hiring freelancers can provide you with a faster turnaround time, and you can freelancers on a case-by-case basis for what you need.

Building Your Business With Outsourced Workers and Services

When building your business, you have a lot of responsibilities. Handling all of your marketing when you are not an expert can be overwhelming. Along with freelance help, there are off-the-shelf services to save you money and time when you build your company. Look for customised marketing options, or some freelancers have content or analytics they can provide without customization. You can hire people with skills ranging from digital analytics and SEO content to graphic design work to help with marketing.

By hiring freelancers, you can focus on other business matters, such as your business structure. Many businesses benefit from a limited liability company. When you form an LLC, you get more flexibility, tax advantages, and limited liability. If you do not want to face lawyer fees, you may want to hire a service to handle your formation papers and more.

Hiring marketing freelancers can benefit a company and help you grow your business from the ground up. By outsourcing, you can receive high-quality work without the overhead costs of hiring full-time employees.

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8 Essential Steps to Becoming a Digital Nomad

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Guest post written by Lance Cody-Valdez of Free Lance Now.

Among many other things, the pandemic has changed the way many of us work. More accurately, it’s changed where we work. Telecommuting has become the norm for millions all over the world; some have been eager to get back to the office, while others are hoping to make remote work a long-term solution.

Working from home yields numerous benefits, including convenience, flexibility, and freedom. But did you know that you can take it a step further and become a digital nomad? If you have a passion for traveling and experiencing other cultures, and you don’t have any major commitments keeping you from leaving, then working as a digital nomad could be the perfect pathway to a fulfilling, adventurous lifestyle.

Here are eight ways that you can begin a successful digital nomad journey today!

1. Become a Freelancer

If you currently have a job that you love, you could ask your employer about telecommuting options. Most companies are much more accommodating to employees who want to work out of the office than they were even two years ago.

But that’s not your only option. In fact, most digital nomads work as freelancers in one capacity or another. Typically, being a freelancer means that you provide a service as an independent contractor within your industry or niche of expertise. While you’ll be responsible for developing a brand for yourself and building your client base, becoming a freelancer could provide you the ultimate freedom for traveling and creating your own schedule.

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2. Look Into Your Options

One of the best things about freelancing is that there is such a wide variety of services you can provide. Whether your specialty is centered around creativity, science, technology, or administration, you can build a thriving, long-lasting career as a freelancer. Here are just a few remote work ideas that can fit perfectly into your digital nomad lifestyle:

3. Test Out Remote Work

Whether you’re hoping to telecommute for your current employer or start a freelance career, you may want to test the waters before diving in headfirst. Rather than moving to a different country first thing, take a month or two to work remotely in your hometown. Find coffee shops, cafés, and other places in your city. If you realize that you find it hard to stay motivated and productive, or you simply don’t like it, then being home will make it a lot easier to go back to what you were doing before.

4. Leave Town

If working remotely in your home city for a couple of months is successful, then it’s time to step out of your comfort zone. Choose a city that you’ve always wanted to visit, whether it’s the same place that you want to move to or only in the city over. The important thing is that you experience what it’s like to live and work in a short-term rental, coworking space, cafe, and other establishments outside of your home city.

5. Find a Routine

One of the most critical steps to take when becoming a digital nomad is figuring out a routine that works for you. When you work with other people in person, the structure helps you to stay motivated and productive. You don’t get that structure from remote work, so you have to create your own. It requires exceptional self-discipline to be a successful digital nomad, especially in the early stages.

The key is to find a daily work sequence that optimizes your productivity and to develop great work habits. Once your schedule and habits are well-established, you won’t have to rely solely on your self-discipline; it will simply be what you do!

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6. Research Visas

Many countries now offer visas that were specifically created for digital nomads. And with the economies of so many nations being negatively impacted by the pandemic, more and more opportunities are arising for those who wish to work abroad independently. Do your homework to figure out if any countries you’re interested in coming to provide special visas for your situation.

7. Get a Good Phone and Plan

As a digital nomad, having a phone kind of comes with the title. If you’re going to be running apps and holding video calls with clients, you want to make sure your current phone can handle the workload. If not, you can find many high-quality smartphones without having to spend a fortune on the latest models. You can pick up some accessories as well, such as a cover to protect your device and a popsocket for effortless gripping.

These days, you can keep your current phone number and convert it to receive VOIP calls and SMS messages. Google Voice is one of the leading platforms for this purpose. But if you’re willing to pay a fee, then you might consider a premium service that allows you unlimited calls.

8. Go Carless

Lastly, think about transportation when you’re posting up in any given location. In many countries, driving is impractical, inconvenient, and expensive. When you’re looking for places to post up, try to book accommodations that are surrounded by the essential establishments you will need for work and pleasure so that you can walk or ride a bike wherever you need to go.

If you want to experience other parts of the world while building and maintaining a solid career, then becoming a digital nomad might be the ultimate path for you. Just take some time feeling out the lifestyle, and make sure you know what you’re getting into before you quit your job and sell all of your belongings. Once you’ve determined it’s the right move for you, then give it everything you have and enjoy the ride!

Top 4 Ways to Read Books on a Budget

It’s hard to believe it’s almost March.

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and even though most things have been closed this year, time really has flow. It just goes to show that you can have fun, even when life is stripped down to the essentials.

In light of the fact that most things have been closed/we’ve not been allowed to mix much, I’ve definitely continued with reading as a fulltime habit.

However, given the fact that I seem to be flying through books a lot recently, I’ve had to find ways to do it on a budget (I can no longer justify spending €5 – €10 on a book since I am currently going through around 3 – 5 books per month.)

But, as you will see below there are PLENTY of ways around this:

1. Charity Shop Finds

I got this tip from my friend and I’m embarrassed to say it never even crossed my mind before she said anything, but I’m so glad she did as you can get some absolute bargains – and great reads – from charity shops.

I recently found The Power of Now for €1.00 in my local charity shop – it’s currently €10.49 on Amazon! I often take a trip to my local charity shop to stock up on books, and what’s great about it is that there’s always so much variety as people often drop off the books they no longer want lying around at home – plus buy buying from them, you are donating to a good cause!

2. Amazon Offers

Another strategy I deploy to read books on a budget is to search for the latest offers on Amazon (for Kindle books).

If you’re a fan of reading on Kindle, then I definitely recommend this.

What’s good about Kindle is if you liked the book but don’t plan on reading it again, you simply buy a digital copy, read it and don’t have to worry about having wasted paper by buying a physical copy.

Then, if the opposite happens and you liked it a lot, you can justify buying a physical copy.

This has happened to me a number of times, especially with The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins and Wabi Sabi by Beth Kempton, which are never far from sight and great to just pick up and flick through whenever I get the opportunity.

3. Sort by Price on Offer

You’ll be surprised what a bit of Amazon digging can lead to!

I often sort my search by price on Amazon, which leads to a tonne of free (or incredibly cheap) books, including fiction, non fiction, kids books, cookery books and more!

Simply click on Kindle Books on Amazon, then sort your search by price (low to high) for a wealth of free books.

I started off the New Year reading free books but sometimes the genres are a bit fluffy (there are also loads of free crime/detective books if that’s your thing).

Next, I moved on to £1.00 books and suddenly the quality – and variety – of books increased massively. That said, I’ve found some great classics for free, including The Jungle Book, Robinson Crusoe, Pride and Prejudice and much more!

Alternatively, look for the Deal of the Day for the latest special offers, which features countless books for as little as £0.99.

4. Book Borrowing

Up to now this has worked a treat for me, especially for kids books. This is the ultimate way to share the books you love with others, and learn about some great books that are adored by your friends! I also love book borrowing as it means you get to discuss the book afterwards – it’s always nice to gain other people’s perspectives on books.

What are your tips for reading books on a budget? Leave a comment below!

My Top 5 Books of 2020

What a year 2020 has been! This is the first year in my entire life where I’ve pretty much picked up reading as a full-time hobby. I’ve always been an avid reader but this is the first year I’ve read this many books (just hit 40 and I’m still going strong – lockdown definitely helped…).

I know 2020 isn’t quite up yet and hopefully I will squeeze in a handful more books between now and then. If any of them beat this list then I will update it!

With that in mind, here are my top 5 books of 2020:

5. The Diary of Anne Frank

Obviously I’ve heard a great deal about this book, but I cannot believe I only just read it this year.

Anne Frank is a true inspiration to us all. Something so simple about the book is how she starts each entry with “My Dearest Kitty” or “My darling Kitty” (her imaginary friend.) She was such a character and there are some truly Laugh Out Loud moments (and so many lows) that make you want to hug her and comfort her and tell her how amazing she is.

Throughout the book she talks about how much she wants to inspire the world and become a famous writer or journalist after the war. Well, with 30 million copies sold worldwide in more than 65 languages, she has achieved just that!

Anne Frank has become the most famous young author of all time, and gave a rare glimpse into the day-to-day life of a Jewish person in hiding during WWII. Anne was an extremely intelligent and insightful young woman – and is definitely someone who I would invite to my dream dinner party!

4. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens

Earlier, this year, I helped to organise my friend’s virtual baby shower, and as a Thank You gift, she sent me a bundle of books in the post. It was such a sweet and thoughtful gesture and I was truly touched by her generosity.

Within the bundle was Where the Crawdads Sing, an absolute gem of a book that tells the story of Kya Clark, a young girl described by locals as ‘The Marsh Girl.’

At a young age her battered and bruised mother leaves her abusive father (and consequently, Kya), and from the offset it is clear that Kya lives an isolated and reclusive life where she is forced to fend for herself. There are so many poignant moments where your heart bleeds for Kya, but there are also so many beautiful moments where we learn about the importance of courage, resilience and determination. The initial chapters of the book also have so many exquisite descriptions of nature, which I really enjoyed.

This is honestly an outstanding read and has a shocking ending that I couldn’t stop thinking about for weeks after finishing it. I am so grateful to my friend for sending this book to me (thank you, Jess!)

3. The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle

With so much going on in the world right now, it can be easy to get caught up in the never-ending stream of thoughts going on in our heads (especially mine!)

Don’t get me wrong: just because I’ve read this book (and bookmarked about a gazzilion pages) doesn’t mean I’m suddenly the most Zen person in the village (quite the opposite actually; more like the nuttiest person in the village!) BUT what I did take from this book is that no matter how cloudy our thoughts get, the blue sky is always there. We are not our thoughts, and the storms always pass.

If we can just centre ourselves in the present moment, even just for twenty seconds, that’s something very powerful indeed. As Thich Nhat Hanh says in his book, Silence: “One nerve impulse, one action potential, needs only a millisecond. Giving yourself twenty seconds is giving yourself twenty thousand milliseconds to stop the runaway train of thought.”

I’ve read a lot of books on mindfulness but The Power of Now, which I purchased on Kindle, is one book I plan on buying in physical format so I can have it on hand and just flip open a random page for some quick inspiration (Hi George! It’s Christmas soon!)

2. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

I have to admit when my sister first pitched this to me as a ‘must-read book about the Second World War’ I wasn’t exactly jumping with enthusiasm about reading it, but boy was she right in recommending it. It took me a single weekend to get through this book (and at 450 pages, it’s a long book!)

This is an incredible story about two sisters in France and their battle to survive during the Second World War.

There’s so much depth to this story and it is so shocking and truly horrifying what went on in France (and across the globe) during WWII, and I had no idea about most of it. This is such an inspiring and gripping read and reminds you what true hardship really means, and how much people endured during the war. It also reminds you about the power of resilience, love and freedom.

The Nightingale stays with you long after you’ve finished it. It is such an eye-opener and so beautifully written; I cannot recommend this book enough.

1. Can’t Hurt Me, by David Goggins

This list would not be complete without this exceptional book and if there is one book you need to read at some point in your life, it’s Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins.

It begins with his (terrible) childhood, then goes on to describe the ups and downs he went through throughout his life.

Goggins is someone who simply never gives up and perseveres where most of us would give up or quit or think negatively, very early on. On the contrary, he just keeps pushing himself beyond his mental and physical limits. He thinks so differently to most people and is massively inspiring to us all.

His theory is that we only use 40% of our brains and I totally agree. We just cop out so quickly or convince ourselves that we can’t be bothered or it’s too difficult or we’re not capable etc., when in actual fact, anything is possible. It’s all about mind over matter and shutting up that voice in your head that’s constantly trying to convince you otherwise.

Goggins is an incredible human (superhuman?) who is solid as a rock, both mentally and physically. He has been described as the toughest man alive and if I could just steal 1% of his thought-process, I’d be a really happy human (superhuman?)

So there you have it, my top 5 reads. What books have you read this year that have inspired you? Leave a comment below!

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